As a mother of four boys under the age of 15, Madam Akasele Atogibaseh knew she needed to make a change to better support her family.
Madam Akasele lives in a small town located in the Upper East Region of Ghana. She used to make a meager income through basket weaving and farming to support her family. Despite working hard, Madam Akasele found that she couldn’t afford her children’s school fees or to feed them enough healthy foods.
“Even though my children were attending school, I was finding it difficult to afford all their educational needs like books, uniforms and fees,” she explained. She also feared that she wasn’t providing quality and nutritious meals to help keep her children full throughout the day. Madam Akasele’s biggest worry was that she wouldn’t be able to attend to any unexpected health needs for her children.
TOGETHER AS ONE
Knowing that she needed to make a change for herself and her family, Madam Akasele joined TradeAID Integrated, a local Canadian Feed The Children community partner. TradeAID helps run Farm-Based Organizations (FBOs), which focus on the co-operative power of local farmers coming together to make informed decisions as one united group.
Madam Akasele has been a member of a TradeAID FBO for six years where she and other farmers receive agricultural training, learn about pest control, and collectively purchase farming inputs to help enrich the soil resulting in better growing conditions.
“By registering with farmers in our community, we were able to group purchase subsidized fertilizer at a 50% discount and get access to free extension services from our policy,” she told us. “Because I had learned to apply adequate fertilizer at the right time, thanks to guidance from the extension agents, crops from my maize and rice farms were more plentiful than expected.”
Through FBOs, farmers like Madam Akasele receive better pricing on equipment and crops, develop skills to market their produce, and learn from one another to organize themselves as a collective. Since Madam Akasele joined the FBO she has significantly increased her crop yields, improved her farming techniques, and is selling her produce more efficiently by negotiating better prices. As well, she’s enrolled in a financial farm management course where she learns the importance of separating her business income from her household income.
“One new thing I learned from my course that I plan to implement in my own farming business is to keep proper records,” she explained. “Proper record-keeping will help me plan for the future.”
By being an active member of the TradeAID FBO, Madam Akasele continues learning from other farmers through meetings, educational sessions and courses. She feels empowered by working with her peers to help improve the lives of many families. “As an individual farmer, I would have never received these trainings or learned how to make informed decisions.”
Madam Akasele dreams of growing the acreage of her farms so she doesn’t have to worry about choosing between her children’s education and food. She hopes that her new income will not only help her pay for her boys’ education but also feed them throughout the year. For herself, Madam Akasele can’t wait to expand her farming skill set by learning from her peers in the co-operative.
The Building Hope and Resiliency in North-Eastern Ghana Project is funded by generous private donors and the Unifor Social Justice Fund.
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